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Border Fun

donk

Cyburbian
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Just got back from the longest trip home from boston ever.
Snow storm and border fun.

Going down,

Q: Where you going?
A: Boston area
Q: What are you going for?
A: Visit friends
Q when you coming back
A: Monday, weather permitting
Q: Where do you work?

Was not even asked for ID


Coming home, my car got tossed, nearly an hour and a half at customs trying to explain that I am not a money launderer. I had $50(american and canadian combined) on me a 12 of beer (whoo hoo cheap holiday $5.99 dozen) and 375 ml of scotch, 6 used books thats it.

Oh boy, what a day. At least they did it in a garage.

Anyone else have pleasant border stories?

Now to go home and shovel out 2 1/2 feet of snow.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
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3,388
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26
I went to college about 45 minutes south of the U.S./Canada border.

A friend of mine once got pissed at the world (alright, his girlfriend really) and decided that 2am was a good time to go for a drive in southern Ontario to clear his head.

Upon trying to re-enter NY state around 5am, he explained that he had only been in Ontario for 3 hours, and had just been "driving around."

U.S. customs tossed his car, then stripped out the entire interior searching for contraband. Four hours later, his car rebuilt, they let him go home to campus.

Needless to say, his mood was not improved one iota!
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
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donk said:
Q: What are you going for?
A: Visit friends
Hmmm.....I must have missed the donk express on his way through......that care package never arrived. ;)

Hope you had a good trip donk....be sure to let me know if anything develops with the NH jobs.....
 

NHPlanner

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On topic:

Never had any problems any of the times I've gone into or come back from Canada. Had to sit through a minor inspection of bags and whatnot on my way back from my honeymoon, but not once other than that time.
 

Gedunker

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Flying Pan Am out of Brussels some years ago (5 July 1989) I got the partial interrogation from a female officer with a rifle pointed (noticeably) just below my belt. One tends to be 1) quite conscious of this fact; 2) courteous; and, 3) complete in one's answers given the circumstances. She sensed that I was nervous and they pulled me for the full tossing of luggage. Seemed everyone in the place was watching me. We entered an inspection room where two armed guards stood at the doors with rifles so big (in my memory, anyway) that the butts rested on the floor. Found nothing (nothing to find) and allowed me to re-enter the line, where this asian-appearing individual stood with nothing but an old-fashioned hard-sided camera bag and nothing else to check on an international flight. I kept thinking if I looked suspicious, what about this guy? They never tossed him to my knowledge.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

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4,473
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-Just went to Canada for the first in over 3 years. No problems other than driver of the car said we were staying for 4 hours and we were declaring 2 bottles of wine and 2 cases of beer that we suppose to consume while there at some party (I only had 1 case though, the driver screwed up the total and then said 1). After being only able to drink most of the one 12 pack myself, we brought the other one back. They didn't care though at customs as far as I can recall.
-I've known friends that have gotten the strip search though and they weren't pleased about the full cavity search.
 

biscuit

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3,904
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My fiancee and I were with our zany neighbors on bicycle trip through France and Spain when my fiancee found herself stuck on the Spanish side of the border without her passport. She came up with all kinds of crazy schemes to fool the guard and hilarity ensued, as you can imagine. No, wait a second...that's an episode of I Love Lucy I'm thinking about. My bad.

My family was pulled over for questioning while crossing the border from Washington State into Canada near Rossland, British Columbia. The guard asked my parents the normal questions and seemed satisfied with the answers until he started asking what was in our luggage. He didn't believe that my Mom had brought an entire suitcase of shoes along and proceeded to search the entire vehicle. This guy was not a very pleasant Canadian.

Another time I had my carry-ons searched (pre 9-11) by those rather serious people with the large guns at the Frankfut, Germany airport. Apparently there's something about the way a Swiss Army knife inside a beer stein that's been stuffed into an Italian leather bag looks while going through the x-ray machine that makes them kind of upset.
 

martini

Cyburbian
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678
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19
The only border issue I've dealt with was on Rainy Lake on the Minn/Sask border. My family(I was 14 or 15 at the time) was travelling via power cruiser with about 4 or 5 others in similar boats. All were 25' plus, with most in the 30' range. The mounties didn't really like the way we blazed across the lake/border and corralled us into a small hamlet/bay/fishing village. They proceeded to 'toss'(new term to me, I like it) our boats for 4+ hours thinking we were running drugs or some other contraband. After they found nothing we were told very firmly to go back the way we came and NOT come back the rest of the week we were up there.

I never knew that Canunkistan viewed the US as such a threat unitll that point. Now I know y'all up north of the 45° are dangerous folk and NOT to be trusted! ~tounge FIRMLY planted in cheek at this point!
 

El Feo

Cyburbian
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674
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19
Got stopped and seached for 2 hours coming back from Windsor on the Ambassador Bridge once with my brother. We'd gone across for about an hour just to check things out waiting for our Dad, who was in a meeting in Dearborn.

I guess the INS just assumed that two college-aged guys, driving a van from Kentucky and who'd only been in Canada about 45 minutes or so, had to have been running some fine Bluegrass product over the border.

P.S. - Donk, how'd things go otherwise?
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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7,915
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Crossing alone or in a car with one or two others, I have never had a problem.

However, one time I went on a field trip to Chicago with a planning class...

On the way back into Canada, the Customs Agent asked if anyone had anything to declare. Of course we all said "no". He then stated he was going to look at one bag and see what was in it - and were we sure we had nothing to declare? Again everyone said "no".

The bag he opened had two forty-pounders and a carton of smokes in it. Next thing you know, our bus is parked in the Customs Shed, and everyone's bag is opened one by one. Pretty much everyone on the bus had over their allowed limit of alcohol and/or cigarettes.

The best part - the Customs Agent was a Planning School grad.

Another incident (almost)...one time while in the UK, my Grandfather arranged for a one week trip to Europe with a tour group (of senior citizens - we had soooo much fun). On the way off the ferry, the tour guide asked "right, we're all British citizens here aren't we?" Err...not quite, actually. So my brother and I enjoyed a quasi-illegal week in France, Belgium and Germany, slouching down in the back of the bus whenever we crossed a border post. It was only when we crossed back into the UK that we had a bit of a problem - we actually had to get off the bus and clear Customs. The Inspector was a bit suspicious as to how we were entering the UK from France without a valid French entry visa.
 

jmf

Cyburbian
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594
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17
My favorite border story was also at a Maine/NB crossing. My mom and I had gone on short trip to Quebec and ended up in Maine (I swear the magnetic force of Freeport, ME is really strong!!) At the border the grandfatherly-looking customs agent asked if we had anything to declare - my mom said she was well within her limit but I had spent to much (Gee thanks mom!). The agent just looked at me, shook his head and then looked at my mom and said "Daughters.....they'll do that to you everytime! Have nice day!" and off we went.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
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3,388
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26
jmf said:
((I swear the magnetic force of Freeport, ME is really strong!!)
[ot]One of my favorite things about Freeport is the "pocket park" downtown with a plaque dedicating it to the former town planner who made it happen.[/ot]
 

Cardinal

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10,080
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34
I have crossed over into Canuckistan many times, and only been stopped a couple of times. The worst was a trip about ten years ago. My friend, who was driving and so got to talk to the customs official at the booth, has a nervous condition that makes his hands shake. Needless to say, we were stopped in both directions and the car thoroughly searched. The couple other times I was stopped I was alone and they did a half-hearted search before letting me go on. I did have a relative who smuggled alchohol into the states during Prohibition, though.
 

H

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My brother and I were crossing the border from Peru to Bolivia (thats right, say it with me Skel B-O-L-I-V-I-A) and everyone seemed to be in a non moving line and no one was approaching an empty desk up front, so naturaly we thought everyone must be waiting for something different than us. So we walked past everyone in line and to the desk. The man at the desk processed our passport and we went on.

As we walked away, we realized that the entire line had then switched to the desk we went to. I am not sure what happened there, but I think we accidently cut in front of a lot of people. :)
 

BiteMeElmo

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324
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11
No real horror stories other than having my luggage checked over at various airports, and a check of the contents of the trunk of our car once when returning from Montana ("You sure have a lot of cereal"----we were bringing it back for a fellow Cyburbian).

Otherwise, we've had a laugh at some of the guards' surliness. We still joke about me being referred to as "You, Canadian", when the patrolwoman was already holding my driver's license in her hand.
 

donk

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Re: Re: Border Fun

NHPlanner said:
Hmmm.....I must have missed the donk express on his way through......that care package never arrived. ;)

Hope you had a good trip donk....be sure to let me know if anything develops with the NH jobs.....
It was just too difficult to organize, plus the weather saturday and sunday was rotten. Yesterday, when I was near you was not much better.

Next time.
 

donk

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Tranplanner said:

The best part - the Customs Agent was a Planning School grad.
If it was at the windsor tunnel border between 93-96 I am pretty sure I know who it was. (Can't remember his name, but know exactly what he looked like)


We were coming back from a bike race and he could sense that we all needed to pee and asked us all a million questions, even though he knew us. I have never been so glad to see an alley.
 

BKM

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When I was a kid (years and years ago) I had the crazy notion to just explore southern Ontario (London area) for a day. The customs guy on the Canadian side didn't think I had enough money, so he sent me back across.
 

giff57

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There was that time I spent in the Turkish prison back in the 70's ;-)
 

nerudite

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An ex and I took a roadtrip when we were 19 or 20 y.o. up to the Pac NW for a few days while on Thanksgiving break from university. On a lark, we decided to drive into B.C. to see Vancouver. We were in Canada for maybe 3 or 4 hours... the car got tossed on the way back in to the US, and we were questioned heavily about guns, etc. Scared the hell out of me at the time.

And then the last time we went there was the "cereal incident" that Elmo already described. Although it wasn't for a cyburbian... just a planner.
 

Rem

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When we travel with the kids they use the backpacks they take to school as their carry on. Without fail one of them gets picked by a sniffer dog. Apparently its because the dogs smell the residue of all those packed lunches. The handlers have always been very pleasant and the kids enjoy patting the dogs, usually beagles. (In Australia it is illegal to carry most fresh food into the country - hence the sniffer dogs are actually looking for food as well other contraband. Just saying in case you thought maybe the dogs were distracted by food when sniffing for explosives).

I note from the posts above that you show your driver's licence when crossing between USA and Canada. Do you not need your passport?
 

donk

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Rem said:

I note from the posts above that you show your driver's licence when crossing between USA and Canada. Do you not need your passport?
Not always, drivers license and birth certificate are usually enough. This time no requests from either side for ID. Probably depends where you cross and what you look like.

I did stop in and drop off my passport application on the way home.
 

DecaturHawk

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giff57 said:
There was that time I spent in the Turkish prison back in the 70's ;-)
OH, man! Midnight Express. One of the most depressing films I've ever seen. Anyone traveling to Turkey must see this movie before they leave.

When I was interviewing in Michigan once, I decided to stay two extra days to visit a close friend in London, ON. I decided to cross at Sarnia rather than Detroit, figuring that it would be quicker at a less congested crossing. Was I wrong! The border guard was definitely surly. "Minnesota's a long way to come for such a short visit, isn't it?" she said. I explained that the car was a rental and I was in MI for an interview and wanted to visit my friend. "OK" she said, so I started to go, and she shouted "I didn't say you could leave!" So I was off to Immigration for a quick tossing. My friend, who is a veteran of frequent crossings, told me to avoid the female border guards. I know it's sexist, but following her advice I was never bothered again (and after I took the job and moved to Ypsi I made sure to use the much busier Ambassador Bridge from then on).

On our honeymoon, my wife and I took the Bluenose from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth. Right in front of us at Customs was a bunch of Harley drivin' bikers from New York with tattoos and leather to match. They went right through, but my wife and I were searched. Go figure.

Things never to say to the border guard:
Guard: Do you have any weapons?
You: What do you need?
 

JNL

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2,449
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25
I was visiting friends in Brisbane last year. I got to immigration at the airport and they want to know the address I will be staying at. Well I've never visited these people before and they are picking me up from the airport so I don't know their address. The immigration officer wants something written down so asks if I know the suburb or anything. In desperation, I remember the name of the place where my friend's office is, from reading it on his business card. So I tell the immigration dude this name, and then I get a really funny look - "I hope you're not staying there" he says, "that's where homeless people live!". Turns out there's this park next to the business area... and I gave the name of the park. He let me go through in the end, I think he could tell I was getting genuinely distressed!

Funny thing is, same thing happened last month: I went to visit the same friends in Brisbane, and I still didn't know their address! So I wrote "friend's house" for the address I would be staying at and they didn't question it!
 

Mastiff

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jmf said:
My favorite border story was also at a Maine/NB crossing.
I lived in Houlton... 2 miles from the border (where they actually have a restaurant that straddles the line). Countless times we'd cross on snowmobiles and raise cain, then race back over...

The border patrol loved to come after us when we had races up and down that beautifully cleared 100' wide strip cut along the border.

Ah, memories.
 

SkeLeton

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I don't have any interesting border or customs stories.
The only place I have been outside of Chile, that's in my memory is Argentina, and there's nothing interesting besides having to dump food on our way back to Chile; it's because the numerous plages that the dirty Argentineans have, and we don't.
For an example, no fruits or vegetables are allowed to pass between Argentina and Chile.

If I had to go to Bolivia, if they let me in in the first place... they'd probably be suspicious about the bullet vest, and probably on my way back I'd have a complete cavity search for drugs, heavy car checks, etc...

Though the latest news is that Bolivians are comming to Chile to steal luxory cars and are driving them back to Bolivia, though the desert.
I wonder how many people in Bolivia can afford a decent Mercedes or BMW....
 

BKM

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Hey, DecaturHawk. SARNIA was where I had my "You don't have enough money to visit Canada" experience. Maybe its something in the air from all the refineries that makes 'em surly? :)
 

Zoning Goddess

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Only one story in a similar vein. My dad and I were leaving Italy (in an airport) and after I went thru the metal detector, the really HOT Italian army guy with the big gun started talking which of course I couldn't understand and then he started making motions with his hands which looked to me like "Take your pants off!". Luckily a lady in line behind me quickly assessed the situation and said "Dear, I think your belt is the problem." Took the belt off and waltzed right thru.
 

el Guapo

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donk said:
Anyone else have pleasant border stories?
From the way-back machine

2003-01-10 1:23 PM
I was once asked to leave a place called England and placed back upon on the ferry that brought me from Holland after a short fist fight with a customs official - which he lost and then his friends took over and I lost.

2002-05-07 8:11 AM
And on a personal note; I’ll always remember how customs in the UK screwed with me for two hours because of my Irish surname (It was obvious I was American). Grudges have been carried longer for less.
Personally, I have found it is far easier to get into a country when you are well armed and about half a click behind a US Armored Division. Fewer questions.
 

Plannerbabs

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No problems getting into countries in Europe, no problems getting into Canada (the customs officials usually even tell us the best place to change our money and where the nearest Tim Horton's is), but always, always questions and dirty looks coming back into the US. Guess the dual citizenship confuses them--the US passport with the non-US birthplace. Coming back from France years ago with a bunch of students, our suitcases were all picked through, because we were all bringing wine back and were underage. They let us keep it, though.
 

Jeff

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Been through the San Diego/TJ border too many times to remember. I do recall it's 2 doors (one on either side of the border) walk in Mexico door "are you a US citizen?" why yes I am ... OK.

I remember bringing a backpack through once coming back into the US ... the metal detector was way off to the side. I was told to have my bag scanned. I went over, scanned it and left. There was noone monitoring the scanner nor anyone who even cared that I scanned my own bag and then entered the country.
 

The Irish One

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Many, many years ago

Driving north on I 15 in San Diego about 15 minutes south of Riverside county a sherrifs car passes my friends truck, the sherrif gives us a real good look and drives on. We arrive at the border checkpoint a few minutes later and as we get to the officer he puts his hand up to stop us! Oh ****! we get pulled to the side, dogs come out and sure enough my friend has something in the back of the truck, being the nice guy that I am I tell the officer that it belongs to me, and the agent opens the altoids tin and says "man you know how to roll some fatties, you have a nice day" and so we left without his fatties.

Driving North on the I 5 before the checkpoint in San Clemente on the way to a Grateful Dead show (wooohooo) we get pulled over. I can't imagine why, there were only 7 long hairs in an old VW van, go figure? any way before we pull over my friend who's driving, carefully removes a chunk of hash from his pocket and proceeds to chew it up and store it around his gums before we come to the gaurd. He talks to the gaurd for ten minutes while the dogs do their job and we're off to the dead show with slobber hash.

Driving eats on I 8 we hit about 5 checkpoints and now it's the DHS, anyway they get square with your car and see if it's sagging in the back at all. If it is, then they suspect people and stop you. No problems in Arizona.
 
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